– Attorney General Anne Milgram and
Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni
announced that a Bridgewater man was sentenced
today for using his position as a trustee
of the Martinsville Community Center to
divert $73,960 in community center funds
for his personal benefit.
pleading guilty on Sept. 24 to a charge
of third-degree misapplication of entrusted
property, John Cleary, 75, also admitted
that he caused the center’s valuable
land and rent-producing building to be deeded
to a company controlled by him and his wife
for one dollar.
Cleary was sentenced by Superior Court Judge
Paul W. Armstrong in Somerset County to
three years probation, conditioned on him
paying $142,000 in restitution. The restitution
includes all rent payments received since
the real property was deeded to the company
controlled by the Clearys, as well as community
center funds used to make a down payment
on a townhouse the couple bought.
Armstrong today admitted Cleary’s
wife, Diane, 72, into the Pre-Trial Intervention
Program, also conditioned on payment of
the $142,000 in restitution. The couple
has forfeited their interest in the land
and building formerly owned by the community
and Diane Cleary were charged by complaint
on Feb. 5 with misapplication of entrusted
property. The Division of Criminal Justice
also charged The Now School, a non-profit
entity they created that took title to the
property of the Martinsville Community Center
at 1961 Washington Valley Road. The charge
against The Now School has been dismissed.
building at 1961 Washington Valley Road
has been leased by New Wine Ministries Inc.
for use by the Holy Spirit Fellowship Church.
An investigation by the Division of Criminal
Justice determined that between Oct. 1,
2000 and June 30, 2006, tens of thousands
of dollars in rent payments from the church
to the Martinsville Community Center were
diverted by the Clearys to a company they
owned called Premax Corp.
June 30, 2006, the Clearys, as trustees
of the Martinsville Community Center, deeded
the land and building of the community center
to The Now School, which purportedly was
an Internet-based nonprofit dedicated to
philosophy and education. In reality, The
Now School did not even have a Web site.
The property had been assessed years earlier
Harry Maronpot Jr. and Michael Behar investigated
for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption
Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Thomas Clark
prosecuted the case for the Bureau and handled
General Milgram noted that the Division
of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau has
established a toll-free Corruption Tipline
for the public to report corruption, financial
crime and other illegal activities. Additionally,
the public can log on to the Division of
Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org
to report suspected wrongdoing. All information
received through the Tipline or Web page
will remain confidential.